The Influence of Mass Media on the American Culture


The media heavily influence a person’s perception of reality as a social system. According to this theory, media outlets promote widely accepted cultural norms and values. It was discovered to have a significant impact on this notion. The most fundamental prerequisite for a functioning democracy is access to free and independent media. Using a negative perception in the media is less effective than using persuasive press inferences in this process (NEUMAN, 1982). This shows that people regularly assume public opinion based on their perceptions of media coverage and assumptions about content that significantly impact them. Culture is absorbed and passed on from one generation to the next. It serves as the glue that binds together a varied set of people in an organization, bringing them together in a cohesive manner. Culture is something one acquires, not something one is born with. Another society might be the source of new cultural aspects in one’s community. (Ostic, et al., 2021) Diffusion is the term for the borrowing and incorporation of cultural components from one culture into the culture of another. Some form of cultural change or shift occurs due to diffusion and acculturation. Diffusion can be hampered by the presence of an intermediary point of contact. Political and persuasive influence is wielded through the mass media. As a whole, society can be manipulated by the media. Many people have expressed concern about the power of advertising, propaganda, and the “mind-bending” influence of the media. The media significantly impacts our social behavior, a fundamental aspect of our society. The paper reviews how various mass media factors affect the present American culture by analyzing how these platforms affect the eating culture, people’s socialization, and the American commercial culture. Also, the paper examines the differences in social media use with age and the link between mass media and racial/ethnic and political culture.

Literature Review

Mass Media and the Eating Culture

Media depictions of people’s actual appearance are frequently wildly exaggerated. Images are photoshopped and manipulated to make even the “perfect” models more desirable. This makes the ideal model look more elusive. According to a meta-analysis, men and women are more likely to be dissatisfied with their bodies when they see thin-bodied images in the media (Barlett, Vowels, & Saucier, 2008; Grabe, Ward, & Hyde, 2008). People may become more self-aware as a result of seeing these images. Researchers found that people who habitually think negatively about their body image were more likely to be dissatisfied and disturbed by their appearance. The media directly impacts what people eat, as demonstrated above.

The quantity and quality of food people consume can also affect their self-image. According to a study conducted by Vocks, Legenbauer, and Heil (2007), recent food intake lowered self-reported body image and increased feelings of dissatisfaction with one’s appearance (Vocks, Legenbauer, & Heil, 2007). Participants with better self-reported eating restraint tended to overestimate their actual body size. Similarly, Prieler and Choi (2014) conducted another study on eating control by showing participants either a thin model or an impartial item in a magazine advertisement (Prieler & Choi, 2014). Restricted eaters and unrestricted eaters were the two groups that the participants fell into. Unrestrained eaters had a better self-image and self-esteem than those more conscientious about what they ate. Concerned eaters are more self-conscious after seeing media images of overeating people. The current study sought to understand better the relationship between media consumption and body image, as well as the relationship between media consumption and food intake. Watching advertisements for unhealthy foods was predicted to lead to greater consumption of healthy and unhealthy foods than watching ads for healthy foods. People with the worst body images are those who care about advertisements for healthy foods but then eat junk food afterward. People who watched a healthy ad and were given a more beneficial option would have the best body image of the four conditions. Regardless of the advertisement, people who eat a lot of food generally have a lower body image than others who eat much less.

Additionally, a study by Sidani et al. (2016) states that a nationally representative sample of young adults aged 19 to 32 shows a solid and consistent link between media platform use and eating concerns (Sidani et al., 2016). This study’s findings could be explained by the fact that people who use social media more frequently are more likely to be exposed to media images that could lead to eating disorders. Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and Tumblr are some of the more visually-oriented social media platforms that allow users to post and view photos and videos. The study’s findings could also be explained by the fact that people with eating disorders are more likely to be active on social media. These people may use social media to communicate with others who have similar issues with their weight. It is possible to come across pro-eating disorder factions, such as those known as the “Pro-Ana,” “Pro Mia,” and “Pro-Ana” communities, which have an extensive presence online.

Effects of Media on the Socialization

Regarding socialization, the media has the most significant impact on young people. As a result, my main question is, “How Is Mainstream Media Impacting Socialization in the U.S? A basic knowledge of socialization is required to answer this question. The process of socialization profoundly impacts a child’s life. It is a lifelong process that helps an individual develop a sense of self-identity and learn how to behave in a way consistent with their social context. A study by Lila (2014) notes that people socialize greatly through the media they consume, significantly impacting their behavior and attitudes (Lila, 2014). The media can have a positive impact in some cases. As a result, people better understand what is happening in other countries. Learning new things is one of its many benefits. Sadly, the media can impact young people’s lives negatively. To gain acceptance by society, young people look up to the media, which creates an ideal image of what it takes to fit in. They demonstrate how you should dress, what you should wear, and where you can purchase the necessary accessories to achieve this look. As a result, many young women suffer from anorexia due to their desire to emulate the ideal body type depicted in the media. The media also influence youth misbehavior. The media encourages deviant behavior, which portrays strange behavior as excellent and challenging, and encourages people to engage in such behavior. When young people see violence on television, they are more likely to engage in it themselves. It exposes them to violence and raises their awareness of criminal activity and abnormal behavior in others. A common misconception is that the media has less of an impact on socialization than other influences like family, friends, and formal education. However, the media has a significant effect on children’s socialization.

The media, such as television, the press, the internet, and people’s identities and socialization are significantly influenced. According to experts, television and the internet are incredibly effective socialization tools. The world in which we live today is undergoing rapid transformation. The most important thing is to interact with others constantly. Socialization is a lifelong process, as evidenced by this phenomenon. People’s social skills will improve as society progresses and becomes more accessible and more democratic. Reforming society requires convincing people of the superiority of one’s ideas and inspiring them to believe and trust in them. The media plays a variety of roles, including this one. Free and democratic governments aim to reveal social reality if they are free and democratic. Improve the position of future generations concerning the next life by better orienting future generations.

Social media use, on the other hand, can help people feel more connected to others around them, which can help alleviate feelings of loneliness. Moreover, social media allows people of any age to utilize their sense of belonging in multiple communities by interacting with friends, family, coworkers, and strangers (Ostic, et al., 2021). A growing number of studies also point out that social media can play an essential role in establishing one’s presence, personality, and character, which in turn facilitates social interaction and the formation and maintenance of relationships, as well as the sharing of ideas concepts. Adolescence is marked by a social identity problem exacerbated by media exposure. Adolescence is a crisis as the teenager wrestles with many existential dilemmas.

There are two distinct ways in which media socialization affects different generations. During the formative years of childhood and early adolescence,n entire generation is first exposed to the dominant media of a given period—the cinematographic medium, radio, television, and video—and this exposure profoundly impacts their subsequent development (Elsayed, 2021). Different media are relevant at each stage depending on one’s social group, work career, or family life with children. On the other side, as technology advances, more and more people have greater access to a broader range of media. Older generations, many of whom did not live with digital media, are being influenced by new modes of access provided by digital gadgets.

Mass media and American Commercial Culture

Advertisers spent billions of dollars to get their commercial messages in front of these hordes of people. It is widely agreed upon that the media, particularly television, serve as an essential communications tool. However, their impact cannot be accurately defined and may vary widely depending on which population segments make up their audience (NEUMAN, 1982). As the networks compete for a larger slice of that enormous pie, the medium’s character changes due to these large-scale economics. Programs must appeal to a wide range of viewers because even a tiny percentage of viewers could be offended or unimpressed by a show’s content, resulting in a 15-million-dollar decrease in revenue for the network in a year. Programmatic content is not the only source of media dynamism. In addition, and perhaps more significantly, advertising in the media is to blame. According to one well-known advertising official, American culture and political values are primarily formed by the content of our mass media. Many people believe that the advertisement is more accurate than the actual program or the actual content of the magazine. Media influence is even more apparent when one considers the role of media in the American economy. Most economists agree that advertising is critical for launching new products into the market, expanding a company’s market reach, and creating large-scale markets for their products. A businessman’s belief that advertising is a beneficial means of reaching and persuading individuals is demonstrated by the $15 billion industry spends on advertising each year.

What noncommercial messages do advertisements send? The commercial’s appeal is materialistic. The TV commercial’s message is that material possessions satisfy people’s basic needs and aspirations. The commercial suggests that all significant problems may be solved by using a product. Life’s problems are treated with external solutions. TV does not acknowledge the individual’s obligation for at least part of his situation or the importance of establishing his ability to handle life’s issues. In the environment of the TV advertisement, all of life’s problems, challenges, yearnings, hopes, and concerns may be materially and instantaneously solved without effort, skill, or struggle. Another foundation of these commercials is that people are all externally motivated, wanting to be like their neighbors or successful people. The TV commercial doesn’t acknowledge people are driven by inner demands for self-expression and self-fulfillment and are more interested in “being” than in “having.” An advertisement that shows a person’s success on TV is fabricated, not the result of years of hard work and dedication. The characters and the surroundings of the TV world reflect a particular component of American culture, often that of a white suburban middle-class family with a middle-class income level. Until recently, African-Americans and Spanish-speaking Americans had little representation in American television advertisements. Residents of the United States, both rural and urban, were largely ignored.

The difference in Social Media Use with Age

According to previous Center investigations, there are significant age inequalities (Auxier & Anderson, 2021). Approximately 84% of adults aged 18 to 29 say they use social media, which is about the same as the percentage of adults aged 30 to 49 who say the same (81%). While 73% of those ages 50 to 64 use social media, only 46% of those aged 65 and older do. Younger Americans are more likely than older Americans to utilize specific platforms, though gaps vary across each platform. The study found that most 18- to 29-year-olds prefer Instagram or Snapchat, while approximately half use TikTok. Those ages 18 to 24 are especially likely to use Instagram (76%), Snapchat (75%), or TikTok (55%) (Auxier & Anderson, 2021). When compared to older age groups, these percentages are shockingly low. For example, while 66% of 18-29-year-olds use Snapchat, only 2% of those aged 65 and above use the app, a 63-percentage point disparity.

According to a separate survey by Chou et al. (2009), YouTube is also popular with adults under 65 (Chou et al., 2009). A whopping 95% of those aged 18 to 29 use it, as do 91% of those aged 30 to 49 and 83% of those aged 50 and over. People aged 65 and older have a much lower participation rate (49%) than the general population. On the other hand, Facebook has smaller age disparities between its most recent users and the nation’s oldest citizens. The study also states that 70% of those between the ages of 18 and 29 utilize the platform which is numerically similar to those between the ages of 30 and 49 and those between the ages of 50 and 64 (Chou et al., 2009). Facebook and YouTube are the most popular sites for people over 65, and almost half of them use them regularly.

Although there has been a widespread social transformation in many parts of this country, many sexual and gender minority youth and young adults still face discrimination, stigma, and stereotypes because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. SGM individuals, particularly young adults, may use social media to connect, validate, and build community. This is due to social media’s broad reach and potential for supportive interactions. SGM people use social networks more regularly than the typical American adult. Social media can interfere with daily functioning (Auxier & Anderson, 2021). Minority stress, such as stigmatization, mood disorders, and a lack of emotional, and social support, can put SGM young adults at risk of using social media in a complicated way. A 2019 survey found that 91% of U.S. young adults use at least one social media platform. Habitual use of social media can lead to problematic use, characterized by negative thoughts when unable to access social media, an inability to control one’s social media use, and the supremacy of social networking use over other thoughts and actions in some people. Young adults are highly susceptible to the effects of social media use. Social media is a passive activity that can be done alone. Social media, on the other hand, is frequently used in groups.

As adults, social media users may suffer from a poorer quality of life as a result of their use of the internet. Early life stressors like social isolation and low self-esteem can lead to various health problems in later life. While some studies show a negative connection between social media interaction and well-being, others show positive associations. Social media can improve well-being through high-quality interactions, reducing social isolation and information seeking. Predisposing risk factors for harmful psychosocial media use in young adults include personal attributes, psychological symptoms, and life experiences. High extraversion and negative emotionality are linked to problematic social media use (Chou et al., 2009). Social media allows people to connect with little effort and can be a distraction from daily tasks. Also, young adults who are depressed are more likely to engage in poor social media use. A representative sample study of adolescent adults in the United States found that those who use defective social media are 9 percent more likely to suffer from depression. Social media can be a stress reliever and a source of social support for people suffering from depression, leading to problematic social media use patterns.

Racial/Ethnic, Political Culture and Social Media

Early ideas about social media were to create a digital utopia without race, but racial identity is present in online communities, especially on social media. Because social media is all about interaction and sharing information, its users’ aspirations and uniqueness become integral components of participation. Regarding social media, the preferences and practices of ethnic and racial groups are vastly different (Shivers, 2014 ). The study of how various ethnic groups use, select, and appropriately use social networking sites is a rapidly expanding field in the study of social media, race, and ethnicity. Non-whites have stepped up their participation in politics, entertainment, and issues affecting specific ethnic groups on social media, resulting in a broader range of online knowledge and exchange. Black, Latino, and Asian bloggers have become increasingly visible in the blogosphere since the 2008 presidential elections when more people of color used a variety of social media platforms to engage in political discourse. Unlike whites, other racial and ethnic groups continue to use Myspace to express a wide range of interests, including identity and group loyalty, despite the site’s decline in white users (Shivers, 2014 ). On the other hand, Myspace serves as a platform for a wide range of cultural exchanges through music. Furthermore, people of color, particularly African Americans, Asians, Native Americans, and Latinos, rely more on social media to keep up with local issues than whites do. In summary, social networking reveals a burgeoning range of people and cultures.

What role do race and ethnicity play in explaining the disparity between the sexes in online blogging? People of African American and Hispanic descent are far more likely to be disconnected from the internet than people of other races or ethnicities (Schradie, 2012). Offline scholars also contend with the intensity of the link between class and ethnicity or race. According to some studies, there has been a steady decline in online racial disparities among college students, and only a few online activities still have significant inequalities. More black students blog than white students, and white students also produce less web information than students of other races and ethnicities. However, a different study by Chou et al. (2009) found no association in participation on social media sites, including blogging, based on race or ethnicity (Chou, Hunt, Beckjord, Moser, & Hesse, 2009). Hargittai (2009) examined online production activities among college students and found that white students made much more content than their black and Latino peers (Hargittai, 2009).

Some Americans use social media to rally others and show support for organizations or concerns they have, from racial injustice protests to the 2020 election. Race, ethnicity, age, and party affiliation affect social media experiences and attitudes. Social media offers various opportunities for political engagement. A study that surveyed Americans about four online behaviors showed that one-third of social media users (36%) use sites like Facebook, Twitter, and others to demonstrate support for a cause. Also, they started to look up information about rallies or protests in their region or encourage others to act on critical topics (32 percent) (Auxier & Anderson, 2021). Only 18% of people say they used a hashtag relating to a social or political matter during this period on social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram.

Furthermore, according to a new survey, Auxier and Anderson(2021) stated that the country is divided on whether politicians should use social media to engage with the public, including the president (Auxier & Anderson, 2021). Researchers at FIU surveyed 1,000 eligible voters and found that 83% “sometimes post” or “never post” about politics on social media. The survey was done in January by FIU doctoral student Bethany Bowra and USF associate professor Stephen Neely. Politicians are utilizing social media more often as social media continues to permeate society. However, this survey indicates that most Americans don’t like this trend and would instead not use social media. Social media activism varies by age. 54% of social media users aged between 18 and 29 said they’ve looked up local rallies or protests in the previous month, compared to 36% of those 30 to 49, 26% of those 50 to 64, and 20% of those 65 and older (Auxier & Anderson, 2021) People under 30 are more likely to have used a political or social hashtag to get others to act than those 30 and older. However, there is less of an age difference when posting an image to show support for a cause.


The media affects social perceptions, cultural norms, and values, indicating that media coverage and substance influence public opinion. Also, media affects American culture, from politics to multiple groups’ existence. Social media is a critical online development. Most people utilize social media, which has changed how they communicate online and offline. Companies have realized social media’s marketing benefits. Social media’s ability to develop deeper and longer-lasting relationships with viewers is crucial to digital advertising. Social media marketing can boost a company’s visibility, brand recognition, and audience perceptions. They get traditional advertising’s benefits at a fraction of the cost.

Moreover, eating cultures directly result from the nation’s eating habits influenced by the media. They are particularly susceptible to the images and messages relayed by the media. People like this can’t distinguish between what they see and what’s there. Healthcare providers and other experts should be mindful of programs to which children and adolescents are exposed, their content, and the health risks associated with that exposure. The media has the most significant impact on young people regarding socialization. In some cases, the media can be beneficial. As a result, more people are aware of what’s happening in other parts of the world. One of its many advantages is the opportunity to learn new things. Unfortunately, the media can hurt young people’s lives. Young people look up to the media for an idealized portrayal of what it takes to be accepted by society.

Mass media’s importance in today’s society cannot be emphasized. How people of different races and ethnicities use social media affects American culture in many ways, including the sites they choose and how they use them. Media influence has shaped American political views. Some Americans utilize social media to organize anti-racism protests and other causes. Understanding the political choosing process in this country requires media coverage of government leaders and institutions. The media portrays popular political, financial, and ethnic ideals. These values are debated, although usually by organizations with similar values. Much emphasis has been made on political misinformation in the media, especially during presidential and election campaigns, and how the press should report on it. Focus on whether and how mainstream media intensify emotional, social, and philosophical polarization in politics. Most 18-49-year-olds use social media more than the over-50s. This may be linked to stigmatization, mood disorders, and a lack of emotional and social support, which might put SGM young adults in danger.


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Author: Ariane Brunet
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